76ers

What we know about Al Horford's role and the Sixers' rotation

What we know about Al Horford's role and the Sixers' rotation

CAMDEN, N.J. — Al Horford says he did not spend his All-Star break mulling over his role on the Sixers.

He went to Florida, attended a court naming ceremony in Gainesville for his former college coach, Billy Donovan, and stepped away from professional basketball for a few days.  

Wednesday, he returned to practice with his teammates and dutifully fielded questions. 

Has he been given an indication that he’ll continue to come off the bench?

“I believe so,” he said.

How does he feel about that?

“It’s what the team needs right now,” Horford said, “and that’s what we’re doing.”

Head coach Brett Brown confirmed he’ll stick with what worked in the Sixers’ win last Tuesday over the Clippers, when Horford had been a bench player for the first time since 2007. 

I think that for the moment we're going to try to throw that rotation as you saw against the Clippers,” he said. “With 27 games left, my mindset is to take this next period of time — seven, 10, whatever games — and really get precise and purposeful with our rotation, and then take that run home and polish it up.

“I think that 27 games is an eternity by NBA standards, and so there'll be a portion of what I just said that we want to crystallize the rotation, give thought and reward competition to some of the things that are still competitive. And then in that run home, final 20 games, 15 games, just tighten stuff up. And in my experience doing this, there is ample enough time to pull off what I just said.

As for who will take Horford's spot in the starting lineup, Brown said, “at times it’ll be dependent upon matchups.”

Furkan Korkmaz started last Tuesday, while Glenn Robinson III opened the second half. Brown seemed to indicate Alec Burks can be taken off the list of possible candidates in articulating how he plans to use the 28-year-old. 

“Alec needs to be put in a situation where he can score,” Brown said. “I’m looking at him as sort of an instant offense type off the bench. He can be given the ball, he can be put in pick-and-rolls. I like him more probably in the middle of the floor with a pick-and-roll than a sideline with a pick-and-roll. I think that he can be a primary ball carrier for a while. … I feel like his primary role and his primary asset, his skill set is he can score.”

Horford does not think his responsibilities will shift dramatically. He played 28 minutes Tuesday, about three below his season average. Most notably, only nine of those minutes were with Joel Embiid. Before the Clippers game, Embiid and Horford had shared the floor for 14.3 minutes per game and had the worst offensive rating (98.7) and worst net rating (minus-1.1) of any two-player Sixers pairing with at least 300 minutes together this season.

“I don’t think it changes much, to be honest,” he said. “I’m going out there and defensively, setting the tone for our group, making sure that I’m helping people on the defensive end. And offensively, wherever I get my spots, make plays or be ready to shoot. It’s pretty much the same.”

Tobias Harris was unsurprised by Horford’s matter-of-fact approach to no longer starting. 

“Just a professional,” he said. “Everything we’ve already known about him. As a group and as a team, we’re still trying to figure it out, see what works best. Just to have that mentality and be able to do what could be a great move for our team and see if it works, it just shows a winning attitude, winning mentality. We’ll see if it works.”



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Al Horford makes a donation for coronavirus relief in Dominican Republic, regions where he's played in United States

Al Horford makes a donation for coronavirus relief in Dominican Republic, regions where he's played in United States

Al Horford has donated $500,000 to support coronavirus relief in the Dominican Republic, as well as in each region of the United States where he's played for a team, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.

Horford’s father Tito was the first Dominican-born NBA player, and Al was born in the country. The family later moved to Michigan, where Horford attended Grand Ledge High School. He went to the University of Florida and has played for three NBA cities — Atlanta, Boston and Philadelphia. 

Several other members of the Sixers organization have also made charitable donations during the coronavirus pandemic. Joel Embiid has pledged to donate $500,000 to COV-19 medical relief efforts. Ben Simmons launched “The Philly Pledge,” an initiative which encourages donations to Philabundance and the PHL COVID-19 Fund that’s received support from a wide range of Philadelphia athletes, among them teammates Matisse Thybulle, Tobias Harris, Norvel Pelle and Marial Shayok. 

Sixers managing partners Josh Harris and David Blitzer have made several donations related to coronavirus relief, including to Philabundance and to CHOP and Cooper Hospital.

Limited partner Michael Rubin aims to have his company Fanatics produce a million masks and gowns for hospital and emergency healthcare workers. 

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Sixers Home School: The night Allen Iverson crossed over Michael Jordan

Sixers Home School: The night Allen Iverson crossed over Michael Jordan

There's a lot of home schooling going on right now, so why not use some of this time to learn more about the history of your favorite teams? In this edition of Sixers Home School, we look back at the night Allen Iverson crossed over Michael Jordan.

In a vacuum, rookie Allen Iverson crossing over the legendary Michael Jordan on March 12, 1997, at what was then known as the CoreStates Center was impressive enough.

Putting it into context makes you understand just how big of a deal it was at the time.

The 21-year-old Iverson was having a strong rookie campaign after the Sixers drafted him No. 1 overall. He was still a month away from setting an NBA rookie record with five straight games of 40-plus points. He wasn’t sporting what would become his trademark cornrows — though he did rock them when he won MVP of the Schick Rookie Game. 

This night was when he began to really put a bow on what would turn into a Rookie of the Year season.

As for Jordan and the Bulls, they were ho humming their way to a 69-win season and their fifth title in seven years. Jordan was 33, and though his game had evolved, he was as dominant as ever. Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman provided all the help he would need.

But on this night, it wasn’t about the Bulls, who celebrated receiving their championship ring ceremony by trouncing the Sixers and shutting down Iverson earlier in the season.

This was about the kid from Hampton, Virginia. The six-foot guard from Georgetown that grew up idolizing His Airness, but also told a coach back in high school that he was good enough to take him. 

“I remember the first time I played against him,” Iverson said in his Hall of Fame speech. “I walked out on the court and I looked at him, and for the first time in my life a human being didn’t look real to me.”

Though the first time the two actually talked was not necessarily cordial.

“The first time I ever talked to him was that year playing in the Rookie Game,” Iverson said in an interview with Complex. “I’ll never forget it because he said, ‘What’s up, you little b----?’ I’ll never forget it.”

Whether the moment provided extra motivation or what, Iverson was at times the best player on the court — which, given who was on the court, is a hell of a statement.

Iverson would finish with a game-high 37 points and foul out in a four-point loss. No, the Sixers didn’t win that night, but the fact that Iverson nearly willed a team full of guys like Scott Williams, Mark Davis and Rex Chapman to a victory over that juggernaut was remarkable.

But over the course of time, nobody remembers — or really cares — who won that game. It was the moment A.I. crossed over M.J. It wasn’t quite a torch-passing moment as Jordan would go on to win another MVP and championship, but it was a clear indication that Philadelphia had drafted a star.

That highlight dominated every sportscast the following day and had Sixers fans' imaginations running wild.

The legend of Iverson only continued to grow from there as he became one Philadelphia’s most celebrated athletes and joined his idol in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.

Years later, he spoke to Jordan about the moment he got him with his legendary crossover.

“I went to a Charlotte game and I was telling him how much he meant to me and how I rocked with him,” Iverson went on to say in the interview with Complex. “He was like, ‘Man, you don’t rock with me like that because you wouldn’t have crossed me like that.’”

For as much as Iverson had idolized Jordan, his desire to beat him and be the best outweighed that.

“I always knew that once I got to the league, I was going to try my move on the best,” Iverson said, “so he was just a victim that night.”

That night, a star was born and a legacy was just beginning.

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